1357. Late February, and the air’s so balmy snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled into early blooming. ~Gail Mazur

It’s only approaching mid-February rather than late February hereabouts, and there are no crocuses yet nor snowdrops blooming for us, but it is balmy enough for the quinces, daffodils, and saucer magnolias to have been fooled into blooming.

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oft treacherous is
winter when it proffers not
cold nor snow nor ice

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But instead betrays
the garden with lies that spring
has indeed arrived

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So that daffodils
and quince and magnolias
flower too early

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Leaving them in great
peril from a forth coming
late wintry, hard freeze

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So who’s to say that
‘tis the month of love when
deceitfulness lurks

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But as for the Lord: … but I(God) will not take my love from him, not will I ever betray my faithfulness to him. I will not violate my covenant or alter why my lips have uttered. ~Psalm 89:33-34 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie except for the first one. I found it on Pinterest today.

 

1356. The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within. ~William C. Bryant

yellow jasmine and
daffodils too have I seen
springtime harbingers

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poppy progeny
grows where seeds fell from dried pods
as summer drew nigh

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tulip foliage
as well as anemones
break ground ‘neath the oak

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new leaves appear on
roses that survived the first
hard, too early freeze

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This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat…” ~Excerpted passage from Isaiah 18:4  ✝

**All but two images taken by Natalie; collages created by Natalie; haikus written by Natalie

1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1080. Come, gentle Spring!  Ethereal Mildness!  Come. ~James Thomson 

O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.
~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

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But, but, but, it’s just way to early for spring’s “ethereal madness” and the green things growing. The day after my knee surgery at the end of February last year, it snowed and then three days later when I came home from the hospital it snowed again. Our last average freeze date isn’t until March 15th, and there have been times when a hard, late freeze or an ice/snow event have occurred even as late as April 1st. So what’s up with this crazy weather? I love springtime and I’m always thrilled when it arrives, but this is just too soon for it to come. Thank goodness I got started earlier than usual on cleaning up and weeding the beds because we virtually had no winter to speak of. Also I’d already gotten the roses pruned and ready to go. But then since roses are supposed to be fed when they are leafed out and most of mine are almost leafed out already, what do I do now? If I go ahead and feed them, they’ll really get going, and a late freeze could kill all the new growth and set them way back. I’m also concerned about the ducks that winter at our neighborhood pond since I noticed last week that they’ve left already. It’s too early for that too. They could end up getting their little derriere’s frozen off by returning too soon to their northern homes because Old Man Winter and Jack Frost may have high-tailed it out of Texas, but that doesn’t mean they’ve closed up shop elsewhere.

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Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
~Omar Khayyám

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Spring’s cup is indeed being filled regardless of the date and time, and it’s fire has begun to fling off winter’s garments. As well the bird is on the wing. I know this because I’ve been watching them for at least a week or two refurbishing birdhouses or feathering nests. So it looks like I’m going to need to pray for their sake and for sake of all the green things growing that winter doesn’t come back for a last hurrah!

See! The winter is past… ~Excerpt from Song of Songs 2:11  ✝

1079. I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. If not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ~Gillian Anderson

February 26th is not a holiday nor necessarily a particularly important day for that matter, but it is a significant day for me. A year ago today I was in surgery getting my left knee replaced which has been a huge success and blessing for me. Then today after returning home from my end of the year check up on it, I noticed that again one of my early posts had been viewed making it still the most viewed and liked one to date. So I decided to repost it to commemorate blessings and favorable outcomes in general. The only thing I’ve changed about it is the photo.

46. A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage. ~William Blake
FEBRUARY 26, 2013 BY NATALIESCARBERRY

When father takes his spade to dig
then Robin comes along;
And sits upon a little twig
And sings a little song.
~Laurence Alma-Tadema

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The introductory line in the title is from Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence,” a somewhat lengthy poem consisting of a series of paradoxes in which Blake juxtaposes innocence with evil and corruption. The word augury in the title means omen or token, and the robin is the poem’s first noted “augury of innocence.”  The robin’s song, personality, and countenance are such that it’s obvious why the poet saw the act of putting one in a cage as not only an enraging violation but also as a profound perversion of holiness.  The sweet song and colorful markings of a robin make the bird a delightful harbinger of spring’s infancy and innocence.  Looking forward to its coming is one of my favorite rites in spring’s passage, and like “all heaven” I’d be incensed if the bird’s freedom were taken away and its song silenced.  Below is a legend about the robin that again ties the bird to the blameless and sacred.  Although the truthfulness of legends is questionable, I’m fascinated that somehow, somewhere, and in some way the robin was connected to the Messiah.

The Legend of the First Robin
One day, long ago, a little bird in Jerusalem saw a large crowd gathered around a man carrying a heavy wooden cross.  On the man’s head was a crown made from a thorn branch.  The thorns were long and sharp.  The little bird saw that the thorns were hurting the man.  It wanted to help Him, so it flew down and took the longest, sharpest thorn in its tiny beak.  The bird tugged and pulled until the thorn snapped from the branch.  Then a strange thing happened.  A drop of blood fell onto the bird’s breast, staining it bright red.  The stain never went away.  And so today the robin proudly wears a red-breast, because it helped a man named Jesus.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. . .”  ~Job 12:7-10   ✝

1065. Let God’s promises shine on your problems. ~Corrie Ten Boom

February is a quiet month in the garden…
But just because it looks quiet
doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
~Edited and adapted quote from
Rosalie Muller Wright

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The dictionary defines a promise as: (1. a declaration that something will or will not be done or given, or (2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based. Isn’t is amazing that something as tiny as seeds declare what the Lord has promised, done, and given, and what we as His children can expect from His covenants. Special mention of seeds and their guarantee is made on the 3rd day in the Scriptural Genesis story. And the plants and trees God created have never failed to produce profuse manifestations of this “seed force” which has been been emerging for millions of years and comes forth yet from earth’s vegetation. The roots of this holy “seed force” reach down into the darkness of the earth’s “concealed depths.” Therein they are sustained by water, and in the Celtic tradition the moisture in earth’s soil was seen as a “symbol of the waters of God that enfolded and infused all things.” God’s goodness, which is deeper than any evil, can be seen then at the very inception of and at the heart of all life. J. Philip Newell puts it this way: “Everything that is born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life.” And I love the imagery these words paint of the seed and humanity’s roots reaching deep into our Maker’s life. What a comforting and safe place is the sheltering heart of Yahweh!

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:10-11 ✝

**In the collage are a collection of seed pods I found in my winter garden.

1058. The poetry of the earth is never dead… ~John Keats

Let us love winter, for
it is the spring of genius.
~Pietro Aretino

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Scripture tells us that God  rested on the 7th day, and so we see that He deems rest as an essential element of well being. Earth’s life cycles would simply not be sustainable without rest, and that’s what winter is designed for. This rhythm of restfulness and  then liveliness is visible in more than just springtime’s revival though; for example, we see it in the yielding of daylight to darkness, wakefulness to sleep, and noisiness to silence. Relaxation leads to revitalization and health, and that’s why Creation’s repetitive patterns of repose and continuation have been described as the holy rituals of sacred restful sacraments. Although loving winter, especially when we are in its most extreme throes, is challenging, the good news is that Yahweh, the lovable Genius behind winter, built into it things that keep us hopeful. One such thing is this lenten rose that I found blooming near my back fence. In the already cleared ground and warmed by autumn’s leafy debris its pink flowers are rising above the foliage and standing there “pretty as a picture” as they say. Perhaps the hellebore bloomed a bit earlier than usual because what little winter we’ve had here has been mild, very mild so far. It’s just early February and yet there were days last week and more coming next week with highs in the mid-to-high 70‘s. Thus my wondrous, little lenten rose is truly a “verse” of poesy penned by the now sleeping earth, and it is manifest proof that “the poetry of the earth” is, as Keats said, never dead.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. ~Genesis 2:2-3  ✝